Mura Masa: RYC review – so mediocre, it's not even entertainingly bad

Clairo, Tirzah and Slowthai and other guests can’t polish the turds on producer Alex Crossan’s profoundly awful second album

It’s never easy being young, and perhaps it is harder than ever, what with social media and the climate crisis sending youth anxiety rates soaring. This second album by the 23-year-old Grammy-winning British producer Alex Crossan – AKA Mura Masa – is about the understandable draw of nostalgia as an escape from today’s stresses, but it fills you with a different kind of flight impulse.

Mura Masa album art

This is one of the most profoundly, wondrously mediocre albums of our time, which is to say that it’s not even entertainingly bad. The songs featuring Crossan’s voice, a bland instrument better suited to a podcast about natural wines, are nostalgic for early Bloc Party or, more recently, the 1975’s Give Yourself a Try, from which No Hope Generation and Vicarious Living Anthem copy rhythm and riff, but with none of that band’s wit or spunk. In My Mind is like being teleported, sober, into a house party at 8am at which Crossan has grabbed a budget Bluetooth speaker and is cooing drug epiphanies over Little Dragon instrumentals. The melodies are drearily rote, and to call his lyrics sixth-form poetry would be an insult to sixth-formers. Everything sounds tinny and weak even when it’s trying to be edgy – the distortion used on vocals and basslines is offensively ersatz, like a Tory in a punk band.

Guests including Clairo, Tirzah and Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell attempt to polish the turds they’ve been handed. Georgia bastes hers with a heartfelt topline, but the backing sounds like hold music for a multinational bank trying to be hip. Slowthai tries to dynamite his contribution with a typically rambunctious verbal display, but any explosion is snuffed out by the wet shart of the production.

At every turn, there is an overwhelming need to fill your ears with other music, to remind yourself that you’re not in a nightmarish purgatory where pop is dead. The whole thing does perhaps work as a satire on the stultifying effect of nostalgia, but if you’re worried about our burning planet, keep facing outward and don’t waste a single moment listening to anything this wretchedly blinkered.

• Mura Masa’s album RYC is out on 17 January.


Ben Beaumont-Thomas

The GuardianTramp

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